Like most Americans, I’m grateful that the 2016 political cycle is over. What isn’t over is the anger, angst, and division that marked it. Yet I know that we collectively possess the power to change this discomforting and destructive reality.
Compassion, true understanding, and peace are possible. This is not a naïve Pollyanna dream (as I’ve sometimes been told). The creation of this reality begins as a choice in each of our hearts and then flows out from us and into the world.
And despite the violence, mistrust, anger, and vitriol we experienced in 2016, I remain hopeful that peace is not only possible but inevitable.
My small contribution to this process is my annual invitation to nine days of focused thought and prayer, a novena of peace.
This election cycle demonstrated the power of words. Unfortunately, most often they were used in disparaging judgment against individuals and groups. Few words were uplifting, compassionate, or welcoming.
Politicians and media fed anger, hatred, and fear. Positioning mattered more than listening. Being right (however you defined it) mattered more than being compassionate. Now mistrust permeates whole segments of society. Division is the order of the day.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
During the 2015 Novena for Peace I noted “Each of us has a say in which side will win this struggle for the very soul of humanity.”
How we think about each other, how we judge each other, will determine whether we allow anger, hatred, mistrust, and fear to rule our lives and world, or whether forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and understanding will rule.
Since thoughts precede action, becoming aware of how our thoughts amplify either peace or violence is a useful endeavor. This novena will challenge you to become more aware of your daily thoughts and choices.
An Invitation to Become Peace
Whatever your tradition or spiritual practice, I ask you to join me in prayer (or intention if the word “prayer” doesn’t’ suit you) for the 2017 novena for peace.
It is an opportunity to gather as a virtual community with the focused intention of creating the peace we seek through a spiritual discipline.
Communal Prayer as a Pathway to Peace
When we engage as a community in prayer, we are reminded that we are not the separate individual souls we appear to be. We are simply different bits of the Oneness of all creation.
In a communal novena, we connect our individual souls to the Oneness of all beings—and to Oneness of Divine Source. This unity simultaneously feeds all our spirits as it magnifies spiritual gifts like peace.
Many of us ask God to provide peace for us. But I personally think God expects us to co-create the peace we desire.
Isn’t Peace Worth Ten Minutes a Day for Nine Days?
Praying the novena for peace will take about ten minutes a day. And depending on when you choose to engage in it, it will prepare you for a more peaceful day ahead or for a good night’s sleep.
We will begin on January 12th and end on January 20th as the new President takes office. Our theme this year is: forgiveness, understanding, and compassion in action.
The ritual basics and the questions for reflection will challenge you to notice how your thoughts or actions create or disturb peace. Feel free to adjust the prayers and questions to suit your religious tradition, need, or comfort.
Each morning I will post a short quote, reading, or personal reflection to go with the ritual.
So that’s it. Take what works for you, let go of the rest. Invite others.
My hope is these few moments of focused intention, quiet reflection, reading, or prayer will enable each of us to plant within us another peace-filled seed that will germinate and grow as 2017 draws us forward. As we feed that seed the light of compassion and the water of forgiveness then peace will bloom in us and bless the world with its fragrance.
Perhaps then we can heal the divisions that make us appear as separate.